Electricity from clean sources reaches 30% of the global total

The Associated Press

For the first time, 30% of electricity produced worldwide was from clean energy sources as the number of solar and wind farms continued to grow fast.
Of the types of clean energy generated last year, hydroelectric dams produced the most.
More than twice as much solar power was added as coal power.
It was the 19th year in a row that solar was the fastest-growing source of electricity generation.
China, the European Union, the United States and Brazil together accounted for 81% of new solar generation in 2023.
Yet China was also responsible for 55% of coal generation globally and 60% of China’s electricity generation came from coal.
Despite all the growth in clean energy, fossil fuels still made up the majority of global electricity generated last year, causing a 1% rise in global power sector emissions.
But renewable energy generation is forecast to grow even faster.

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According to a report released on Wednesday by the London-based think tank Ember, billions of people use various forms of energy every day, and 2023 was a record-breaking year for renewable energy sources, or those that don’t emit pollutants that warm the planet like carbon dioxide and methane.

With the rapid expansion of solar and wind farms, the percentage of electricity generated globally derived from renewable sources for the first time.

Hydroelectric dams produced the most clean energy last year of all the energy generation types. That is comparable to most years. Yet hydropower fell to a five-year low due to droughts in Mexico, China, North America, and India. Studies indicate that droughts are becoming more severe and starting earlier due to climate change.

Last year, human consumption of electricity increased by about 2 percent, or roughly the same amount as Canada uses annually. Electric cars and heat pumps, which are effective ways to cool and heat buildings, accounted for a portion of this increased demand. It was also for electrolyzers, which are specialized devices that extract hydrogen from water to produce energy. All of these technologies offer ways to combat climate change.

The need for air conditioning as temperatures rise globally and electricity to power new data centers also increased.

The largest portion of newly generated clean energy in 2018 came from solar. The amount of solar power added was more than twice that of coal power. For the nineteenth consecutive year, solar power grew at the quickest rate among electricity generating sources. The report projects that there will be an even greater spike in solar installations in 2024, following a spike in installations at year’s end.

More renewable energy was added by China than by any other nation in 2018; 51 percent of new solar power and 60 percent of new wind power worldwide came from this source. Eighty-one percent of the new solar generation in 2023 came from China, the United States, the European Union, and Brazil combined.

However, coal accounted for 60% of China’s electricity generation and produced 55% of the world’s coal. Of all the fossil fuels, coal has the highest carbon intensity, according to the International Energy Agency.

Although the amount of electricity produced by burning fossil fuels has increased, scientists warn that emissions from burning fuels like coal must drastically decrease in order to protect Earth’s climate. For the most part, the rise was caused by China, India, Vietnam, and Mexico.

According to the report, some nations burned coal to make up for the hydroelectric power they had lost when their reservoirs dried up due to drought. This is an illustration of a vicious cycle, wherein increased use of the substances that initially cause climate change is a response to the changing climate.

The majority of the electricity produced worldwide last year came from fossil fuels, despite all the progress in clean energy, which resulted in a 1% increase in emissions from the power sector. The amount of pollutants already added to the atmosphere, according to scientists, means that even if we cut all greenhouse gas emissions today, the planet would still warm for years to come.

In 2024, analysts predict that global electricity consumption will increase even further. However, the production of renewable energy is expected to increase even more quickly. This could result in 333 terawatt-hours, or 2% less energy produced from fossil fuels.

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